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  1. #1
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    Saudi Arabia suspends ties with Canada over activist row

    Saudi Arabia halted new trade and investment dealings with Canada and suspended diplomatic ties in a dramatic escalation of a dispute over the kingdom’s arrest of a women’s rights activist.

    The kingdom recalled its ambassador to Ottawa and ordered the Canadian envoy to Riyadh to leave within 24 hours, according to a foreign ministry statement cited by the Saudi Press Agency. Canada is “seeking greater clarity” about the matter, a spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.


    The Saudi foreign ministry cited remarks last week by Freeland and the Canadian embassy in Riyadh, criticizing Saudi Arabia’s arrests of women’s rights activists including Samar Badawi. She is a Canadian citizen whose brother Raif Badawi, a blogger who was critical of the Saudi government, was already in jail in the kingdom.

    “The kingdom views the Canadian position as an affront to the kingdom that requires a sharp response to prevent any party from attempting to meddle with Saudi sovereignty,” according to the statement.


    The stand-off pits a Saudi government that’s slowly opening the door to women’s rights against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, an outspoken champion of women’s advancement, who named a gender-balanced cabinet shortly after his 2015 election.

    Just two months ago, Saudi women were given the right to drive a car, yet several of the country’s most prominent women’s rights activists -- including some who fought for years to drive -- were arrested earlier this year on national security grounds.

    “We are seriously concerned by these media reports and are seeking greater clarity on the recent statement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Marie-Pier Baril, a spokeswoman for Freeland, said in an email.

    “Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women’s rights, and freedom of expression around the world. Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialog is critical to international diplomacy.”

    Saudi investments in Canada include G3 Global Holdings Ltd., a joint venture between Bunge Ltd. and Saudi Agricultural & Livestock Investment Co., which purchased the former Canadian Wheat Board in 2015. Saudi Arabia has invested about $6 billion in Canadian businesses since 2006, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

    Tanks, armored vehicles and parts and motor vehicles accounted for about 45 percent of Canada’s 2016 exports to the kingdom, while crude oil and copper ores comprised about 98 percent of imports, according to a government report. Saudi Arabia supplies oil to the Irving refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick.

    The arrests were in line with Saudi laws, and those detained have been provided with due process during investigation and trial, according to the foreign ministry statement.

    Freeland said in a tweet Aug. 2 that she was “very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia,” and that “Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.”

    So far this year, Canada has exported C$1.4 billion ($1.1 billion) in merchandise goods to Saudi Arabia and imported C$2 billion in imports, leaving it with a cumulative year-to-date trade deficit with the kingdom of about C$640 million, according to Statistics Canada data.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...es-with-canada

  2. #2
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    Canada are a net oil exporter and don't really care about Saudi Arabia.

    They can do whatever they want: their loss.

  3. #3
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    Saudi's are idiots, they've got so used to leading with an iron rod, anyone showing any sort of dissent is treated like a mortal enemy of the state. Raif Badawi is an idiot, I've read his blog and his 'free thinking' would make the likes of Gul Bukhari etc seem like the second coming of Voltaire. Yet they've given him such prominence those supporting his cause will be left smacking their forehead when he's eventually released and his views match the most rabic right wing in American politics.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asim_khan View Post
    Saudi's are idiots, they've got so used to leading with an iron rod, anyone showing any sort of dissent is treated like a mortal enemy of the state. Raif Badawi is an idiot, I've read his blog and his 'free thinking' would make the likes of Gul Bukhari etc seem like the second coming of Voltaire. Yet they've given him such prominence those supporting his cause will be left smacking their forehead when he's eventually released and his views match the most rabic right wing in American politics.
    Agreed. The Badawi guy and his wife are worse than right wing nuts in their views on Islam. Saudi should have just ignored them instead of making martyrs out of their third rate ideas. I wish Canada hadn't given asylum to his wife as she's rabidly anti Muslim, even attacking Pakistan needlessly and supporting India (likely got paid for it).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varun View Post
    Canada are a net oil exporter and don't really care about Saudi Arabia.

    They can do whatever they want: their loss.
    Canada imports oil from Saudi though... (provinces of Quebec, Ontario)

    This could be good news for oil and gas in Canada as now eastern Canada would be happy to buy Canadian oil instead of foreign.

  6. #6
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    Somebody needs to get Al-Hejaz out of the hands of Daaku saud family.

  7. #7
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  8. #8
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    Oh. My. God....



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  9. #9
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    ^^^ Unsurprisingly, they've deleted the tweet now. Not very clever to put up an image of a plane and a tall tower like that...


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post
    ^^^ Unsurprisingly, they've deleted the tweet now. Not very clever to put up an image of a plane and a tall tower like that...
    Especially when you're trying to prove to the world that Saudi had nothing to do with 9/11 by wheeling OBL's mother out to wax lyrical about how great the Saudi's are

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asim_khan View Post
    Especially when you're trying to prove to the world that Saudi had nothing to do with 9/11 by wheeling OBL's mother out to wax lyrical about how great the Saudi's are
    Exactly.


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post
    Oh. My. God....

    LMAO what the hell!
    Don't tell me this account has anything to do with the Govt of Saudi since that would be hilarious on so many grounds.


    Tazimi Sirdar

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TM Riddle View Post
    LMAO what the hell!
    Don't tell me this account has anything to do with the Govt of Saudi since that would be hilarious on so many grounds.
    Dunno if it is, but bad enough that it's verified.

    They redid it, without the plane.




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    Quote Originally Posted by TM Riddle View Post
    LMAO what the hell!
    Don't tell me this account has anything to do with the Govt of Saudi since that would be hilarious on so many grounds.
    My word this has got to be up there with the most "multi-meaning" tweets ever.

  15. #15
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    Ok, at first I thought why is Canada talking about Saudis, then i read that the bloggers sister is a Canadian citizen as well, so it makes sense why Canada would issue a statement.

    What is amusing though is those Desis who are falling over themselves supporting Saudi Arabia as a Representative of the 3rd world standing up to the hypocritical first world evil Canada .....

  17. #17
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    KSA is getting more and more belligerent.

    They know they have uncle sam's backing so it goes around doing what it wants similar to Israel.

    Uncle Sam for all of its rhetoric of "freedom, democracy, human rights" is backing an oppressive Saudi regime, while at the same time condemning Iran for human rights violations.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post
    Dunno if it is, but bad enough that it's verified.

    They redid it, without the plane.


    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post

    Oops, now the account seems to have been shut down


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  19. #19
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by LongHorn View Post
    Ok, at first I thought why is Canada talking about Saudis, then i read that the bloggers sister is a Canadian citizen as well, so it makes sense why Canada would issue a statement.

    What is amusing though is those Desis who are falling over themselves supporting Saudi Arabia as a Representative of the 3rd world standing up to the hypocritical first world evil Canada .....
    Had a heated debate with my dad about this, who was doing exactly what you say in the second line.

    It's sad. Then he labels me as a supporter of kafirs.

    What is the point of all that prayer and Quran reading when you yourself decide to support evil rotten to its core.

  21. #21
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    Canada should mind its own business, lets talk about thosuands of missing indigenous girls.


    "Be the best version of yourself"

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pakistanian View Post
    Canada should mind its own business, lets talk about thosuands of missing indigenous girls.
    Uncle Sam should mind its own business first.

    Always going around trying to give "freedom" to people.

    Hows your freedom going for Syrians, Libyans, Iraqis, Afghans these days?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackanhyellow View Post
    Uncle Sam should mind its own business first.

    Always going around trying to give "freedom" to people.

    Hows your freedom going for Syrians, Libyans, Iraqis, Afghans these days?
    Do I look like a supporter of uncle sam? Canada is also part of NATO and is equally complicit.


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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pakistanian View Post
    Canada should mind its own business, lets talk about thosuands of missing indigenous girls.
    If a Canadian citizen gets arrested for a dubious reason, its their business.

  25. #25
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    Saudi students in Canada to be relocated to other countries after diplomatic rift

    In apparent escalation of a rift between Saudi Arabia and Canada on Monday evening, Riyadh suspended scholarships for Saudi students in Canada and said it would relocate thousands of students studying there to other countries, state media reported, citing an Education Ministry official.

    The move followed the Kingdom's announcement yesterday that it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and had recalled its envoy while freezing all new trade, in protest at Ottawa's vigorous calls for the release of jailed activists.

    KSA gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country, in an abrupt rupture of relations over what it slammed as “interference” in its internal affairs.

    The move, which underscores a newly aggressive foreign policy led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, came after Canada demanded the immediate release of human rights campaigners swept up in a new crackdown.

    Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was quoted by Reuters as saying to reporters on Monday that "it would be a shame for those students if they are deprived of the opportunity to study here."

    According to the Toronto Star, there are about 16,000 Saudi students studying in Canada.

    Freeland late on Monday also tweeted an official statement saying that Canada would "continue to advocate for human rights and for the brave women and men who push for these fundamental rights around the world."

    "Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women’s rights and freedom of expression around the world. We will never hesitate to promote these values and we believe that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy," the press release read.

    "We are deeply concerned that Saudi Arabia has expelled Canada’s ambassador in response to Canadian statements in defence of human rights activists detained in the kingdom. The Embassy of Canada to Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, continues its regular operations, including consular services," the statement added.

    https://dawn.com/news/1425532/saudi-...iplomatic-rift

  26. #26
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    Well Canada should not have poked its nose in Saudi affairs.

    Yes Saudis have a poor human rights record etc etc etc but at the end of the day they are a sovereign nation handling their internal affairs.

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    Justin Trudeau should do well to check his voting pattern in UNO on matters pertaining to Israel-Palestinian Conflict

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dagestani_Eagle View Post
    Justin Trudeau should do well to check his voting pattern in UNO on matters pertaining to Israel-Palestinian Conflict
    You do know that Palestine and Saudi are two very different countries, right?


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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pakistanian View Post
    You do know that Palestine and Saudi are two very different countries, right?
    Yeah I know
    This fake "Human Rights" concern by Trudeau may have many buyers but I ain't buying this fake act of his

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    Saudi have gone ahead and suspended all Saudia flights to Toronto.

    Once again, their loss.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varun View Post
    Saudi have gone ahead and suspended all Saudia flights to Toronto.

    Once again, their loss.
    Saudi are home to trillion dollar Saudi Aramco, they're not losing anything lol.


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  32. #32
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    Damn, well, that escalated fast.

    Is it really that big of a deal? I mean they could have worked it out instead of throwing such a big tantrum!

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pakistanian View Post
    Saudi are home to trillion dollar Saudi Aramco, they're not losing anything lol.
    Trillion dollar Aramco where they do diddly squat. Without expertise from the West and labour from the East, not a wheel will turn in Saudi Arabia.

    Oh, and Aramco = Arabian-American Oil Company. I can assure you nothing in Canada, oil company or otherwise, is named after Saudi Arabia.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varun View Post
    Trillion dollar Aramco where they do diddly squat. Without expertise from the West and labour from the East, not a wheel will turn in Saudi Arabia.

    Oh, and Aramco = Arabian-American Oil Company. I can assure you nothing in Canada, oil company or otherwise, is named after Saudi Arabia.
    So what? You come off as a white supremacist who thinks only westerners have the intelligence and skills to become successful, the self hate is real.

    Canada's entire economy was propped up and is supported by the American economy. I'm pretty sure Saudi has investments in Canada like in other countries, they have a veru large sovereign wealth fund.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pakistanian View Post
    So what? You come off as a white supremacist who thinks only westerners have the intelligence and skills to become successful, the self hate is real.

    Canada's entire economy was propped up and is supported by the American economy. I'm pretty sure Saudi has investments in Canada like in other countries, they have a veru large sovereign wealth fund.
    Lol what? Canada is where USA exports a huge amount to, so many services and blue collar jobs depend on it, Canada on the other hand has so many resources per person it's not even funny, they would easily survive just by dealing with all other countries.

    Canada was actually doing pretty good before WALL MART and Target showed up.

  36. #36
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    Even the Desi Americans are so arrogant,not even funny.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pakistanian View Post
    So what? You come off as a white supremacist who thinks only westerners have the intelligence and skills to become successful, the self hate is real.

    Canada's entire economy was propped up and is supported by the American economy. I'm pretty sure Saudi has investments in Canada like in other countries, they have a veru large sovereign wealth fund.
    Oh, so me stating some home truths about beloved Saudi Aramco makes me a self hater!?

    If anything, the generalization put forward by @LongHorn above seems quite appropriate for you:

    Quote Originally Posted by LongHorn View Post
    What is amusing though is those Desis who are falling over themselves supporting Saudi Arabia as a Representative of the 3rd world standing up to the hypocritical first world evil Canada .....

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaDed View Post
    Lol what? Canada is where USA exports a huge amount to, so many services and blue collar jobs depend on it, Canada on the other hand has so many resources per person it's not even funny, they would easily survive just by dealing with all other countries.

    Canada was actually doing pretty good before WALL MART and Target showed up.
    America's presence in Canada is much more than judt "WALL MART and Target", over 80% of Canada's economy is tied to the United States. If Canada blocks our exports we can annex them and they can do nothing about it. Canadas oil industry was developed by America, read up about Americans working in Alberta.


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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pakistanian View Post
    America's presence in Canada is much more than judt "WALL MART and Target", over 80% of Canada's economy is tied to the United States. If Canada blocks our exports we can annex them and they can do nothing about it. Canadas oil industry was developed by America, read up about Americans working in Alberta.
    You are saying if Canada doesn't allow export, America would annex Canada? Lol.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suleiman View Post
    Had a heated debate with my dad about this, who was doing exactly what you say in the second line.

    It's sad. Then he labels me as a supporter of kafirs.

    What is the point of all that prayer and Quran reading when you yourself decide to support evil rotten to its core.
    Used to have such frequent debates with my folks too before but then decided it is is pointless as they are either too old minded, stubborn/proud or set in their ways to change now. Better to just avoid getting into these discussions.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaDed View Post
    Lol what? Canada is where USA exports a huge amount to, so many services and blue collar jobs depend on it, Canada on the other hand has so many resources per person it's not even funny, they would easily survive just by dealing with all other countries.

    Canada was actually doing pretty good before WALL MART and Target showed up.
    Fallacy but I understand why you came up with this which has no merit in real world.

    Canada's economy is heavily depended on US, and off course Canada will survive, as if they will have any other option but to survive.

    It has nothing to do with ignorance.

    On topic, MBS and Saudi are shooting themselves on a foot, Canada will never compromise on this issue and the world that matters, at least on the surface, will be on Canadian side.

  42. #42
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    Why do canadian citizens have to go to Saudi and break their laws? Laws may be archaic, medieval, anti human rights but its their law. Let saudis protest if they dont like these laws. Why Canada?

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pakistanian View Post
    Saudi are home to trillion dollar Saudi Aramco, they're not losing anything lol.
    Seriously, please sign up for Macro 101 if still in school. There's an obvious reason why IMF classifies Saudi Arabia as a developing economy, while Canada as an advanced economy.

  44. #44
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    MBS be like ‘yeh bik gai e Canadian gormint, ab in may kuch nai raha’.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by cricketjoshila View Post
    Why do canadian citizens have to go to Saudi and break their laws? Laws may be archaic, medieval, anti human rights but its their law. Let saudis protest if they dont like these laws. Why Canada?
    The Badawis were born and raised in Saudi Arabia.


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    MBS got too much power way too soon. Another young world leader i can imagine is Austrian vice Chancellor and he is also not a believer in moderation.


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    wow, this escalated and how.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingusama92 View Post
    The Badawis were born and raised in Saudi Arabia.
    If they are saudi citizens then Canada should not interfere. If they are saudi born canadian citizens then canada has to stop its citizens from going to another country and breaking their laws. And then Canadian Ambassador issues a statement.

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    Saudi Arabia rules out mediation in Canada spat

    RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday there was no room for mediation in the kingdom’s deepening diplomatic dispute with Canada, and that Ottawa knew what it needed to do to “fix its big mistake”.

    “There is nothing to mediate. A mistake has been made and a mistake should be corrected,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference in Riyadh.

    In an indication that the quarrel may worsen, Mr Jubeir said that the kingdom was still “considering additional measures” against Canada, but did not elaborate.

    Saudi Arabia on Sunday froze new trade with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador in retaliation for Ottawa’s call to free arrested Saudi civil society activists.

    It also ended state-backed educational and medical programmes in Canada, making plans to relocate tens of thousands of Saudi students and patients to other countries.

    Responding to a question about the reason for the activists’ arrests, Mr Jubeir said that charges against them would be made public once their cases reached the courts, repeating earlier allegations that they had been in touch with foreign entities.

    “The matter is not about human rights; it is a matter of national security,” he said.

    Canadian investments in Saudi Arabia were still ongoing and would not be affected by the dispute, he said.

    Reports say Canada plans to seek help from the United Arab Emirates and Britain to defuse the row.

    The Financial Times reported the Saudi central bank and state pension funds had instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings “no matter the cost”, citing unidentified sources.

    A Canadian departmental spokesperson said Global Affairs Canada continues to seek clarity from the Saudi Arabian government on various issues.

    A source at a Saudi bank said it was contacted by the central bank on Wednesday afternoon asking for information about all their Canadian exposure investments in Canada and foreign exchange positions.

    https://www.dawn.com/news/1425860/sa...-in-canada-spa

  50. #50
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    ISLAMABAD: In what looked to be a word of caution for the non-career politically appointed ambassadors serving in different capitals across the world, the Foreign Office on Thursday suggested that many of them would soon have to pack their bags.

    “According to their contract, non-career ambassadors are deemed to have resigned, unless the new government decides otherwise,” Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said in response to a question about the ambassador to the United States, Ali Jehangir Siddiqui.

    The future of politically appointed ambassadors has been hotly debated since the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government completed its tenure on May 31.

    Indian attempts to make demographic changes in held Kashmir assailed

    The PML-N had during its tenure appointed 21 ambassadors on political grounds, some of whom have already left on completion of their contract. The remaining ones, too, as per diplomatic norm, are expected to stand down with the change in government.

    The two interesting cases of political appointees are that of Mr Siddiqui, who presented his credentials to President Trump three weeks after the PML-N government left office, and High Commissioner to Canada Tariq Azim, who was granted a two-year extension in the service contract shortly before the PML-N government’s tenure ended.

    The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had taken a strong position against the appointment of Mr Siddiqui and it may be difficult for the party to step back unless the other powerful stakeholders in the Foreign Policy arena intervene in his favour, about which many are already speculating.

    Another high-profile political appointee, Permanent Representative at the UN in New York Dr Maleeha Lodhi, who met PTI chairman Imran Khan a few days ago for what the FO described as a private meeting, is being tipped to be retained in her position.

    Saudi Arabia stance backed
    Pakistan has sided with Saudi Arabia in its latest diplomatic spat with Canada.

    “Pakistan stands by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in protecting its sovereignty as a matter of principle and based on the historic and brotherly relations between our two countries,” the spokesman said.

    The spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada started after Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted to demand release of women’s rights activist Samar Badawi. Later, the Canadian government called for immediate release of jailed activists.

    The Saudi government took strong exception to the Canadian criticism of the treatment of rights activists in the Kingdom and expelled Canada’s ambassador besides recalling its own ambassador from Ottawa.

    Besides, Pakistan’s solidarity with a Muslim country and its position on sovereignty of states and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, the stance taken by the FO is driven by its uneasy relationship with Canada, a diplomatic source revealed.

    The Pakistan government is unhappy with Canada over its discriminatory visa policy towards Pakistanis, negative travel advisory and Canadian high commissioner in Islamabad’s attitude towards the host government.

    Responding to a question about re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran, the spokesman took a cautious position.

    “We are examining the implications of the US re-imposition of sanctions on Iran. However, Pakistan, being a sovereign state, reserves the right to pursue legitimate economic and commercial interests while respecting the international legal regime,” the spokesman said.

    Kashmir
    In reply to a question about demographic changes India is trying to bring about in held Kashmir by abrogating Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution, the FO spokesman said that this was not the first time that India was trying to do so, adds APP

    “They (Indian leaders) have been trying to do it for the last 70 years. This is a direct violation of the UNSC Resolutions. We have consistently been raising this issue on all international forums and shall continue to do so,” Dr Faisal said.

    He said that India could not crush the legitimate, indigenous Kashmiri struggle by such nefarious, underhanded means.

    “All such Indian efforts have failed in the past and they will continue to fail in future also,” he added.

    “The only solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is through the realisation of the right to self-determination of the people of Kashmir through an impartial UN-administered plebiscite in accordance with UNSC Resolutions,” the spokesman said.

    https://www.dawn.com/news/1426095/pa...be-recalled-fo


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  51. #51
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    Only ties people want to maintain with Saudi is for religious purposes, oil and money. Otherwise why would anyone want to have relations with this dimwitted country?

  52. #52
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    Plenty of “their country / their laws” and “every nation for itself” type comments being rolled out, which they always are for Saudi Arabia more than most.

    These are such enslaved cop-out responses, clearly designed.to avoid addressing the points that have been raised - as if people aren’t even entitled to hold an opinion on this.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmkextreme_1 View Post
    Damn, well, that escalated fast.

    Is it really that big of a deal? I mean they could have worked it out instead of throwing such a big tantrum!
    MBS trying to avert attention from difficult growing domestic economic situation

  54. #54
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    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-s...-idUSKBN1KV2FC

    OTTAWA/RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) - For years, Canadian pressure on human rights in Saudi Arabia had elicited no more than a standard rejection. But all that changed last week, when a Canadian complaint was translated into Arabic and set off a diplomatic row.

    Airline crew arrives at Toronto Pearson International Airport from a Saudi Airlines flight from Riyadh in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Donovan

    When Riyadh responded to a call from Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland to release civil society activists with an abrupt severing of diplomatic and trade ties, Canadian officials were left scrambling to understand what had happened.

    What Ottawa did not anticipate was that in the eyes of the Saudis they had crossed a red line.

    On Aug. 2, Freeland tweeted here in English and French, calling for the release of two jailed Saudi human rights activists. The following day, Canada's foreign affairs department sent another tweet here, urging Saudi Arabia to "immediately release" those and other activists.

    That was translated here into Arabic by its embassy in Riyadh and sent out on Aug. 5 to its approximately 12,000 followers.

    The reaction from Saudi Arabia was swift. Hours after the Arabic tweet, the Saudi government recalled its ambassador, barred Canada’s envoy from returning and placed a ban on new trade.

    Two Gulf sources said it was the tweet from the embassy that upset Saudi officials the most.

    “Matters were being handled through usual channels but the tweet was a break with diplomatic norms and protocol,” said one of the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

    The sources did not clarify exactly how the tweet broke with diplomacy, but regional experts said it was the step of sending it to a domestic audience that would have angered Saudi officials.

    “The Saudi retaliation took some time to allow for political talks in closed doors,” Salman al-Ansari, founder of the Washington-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, said.

    “They thought the Canadians would take steps to back off, but all of a sudden they tweeted it in Arabic. This was a very provocative action by the Canadians to try to embarrass the Saudis in front of their people. The Saudis did not take this lightly at all.”

    Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir raised the issue of the Arabic tweet in a call with Freeland on Tuesday, and complained about interference, a person familiar with the matter who declined to be named said.

    Canadian officials say there was nothing remarkable about the Arabic tweet, which merely repeated Ottawa’s stated position in a common practice for delegations abroad.

    Canada has raised the issue of civil society activist detentions before. As recently as May, Canada’s Riyadh embassy tweeted in English its concern about activist arrests and said it was “crucial that the rule of law” be respected, with no public Saudi response.

    ‘COLLATERAL DAMAGE’

    The outsized reaction to the tweet underscores how the kingdom is taking a much harsher stance against what it perceives as Western interference in its internal affairs on issues like human rights, perhaps emboldened by Washington’s willingness under Donald Trump to de-emphasize rights issues when it comes to its allies.

    Riyadh and Washington have been enjoying an exceptionally close relationship – tense during the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama – as both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Trump share similar concerns about Iran. By contrast, Trump and Trudeau locked horns during the G7 summit in June in an unusually public manner.

    The U.S. State Department this week urged the two sides to use diplomacy to resolve the dispute.

    “Canada is collateral damage,” said Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor and Middle East expert at the University of Ottawa. “This fundamentally is not about Canada. This is about Saudi Arabia wanting to send a broader message to its neighbors, to other democracies.”

    Canadian foreign affairs officials including Freeland, who were gathered at a Vancouver hotel for a conference on Sunday, were taken aback by the Saudi reaction and left scrambling. Canada, government insiders said, was still unclear on what steps it can take to “fix its big mistake”, as a Saudi official called it.

    “I don’t think we have a conclusive understanding as of right now,” said a Canadian government source. “There may be the need for another call (between Freeland and Jubeir). We’re also obviously talking to our partners about it. We do not wish to have bad relations with them (the Saudis).”

    Inside Saudi Arabia, the measures were supported by a media campaign criticizing Canada’s human rights record and praising the Saudi ruler’s firmness in “protecting the kingdom’s sovereignty.”

    Saudi state television channels aired reports on the struggle of indigenous people in Canada and said they had been historically subject to discrimination. Other reports listed “the worst Canadian prisons” and described harsh prison conditions.

    Thousands of Twitter accounts bearing Saudi flags tweeted on the dispute, elevating the phrase “Saudi Arabia expels the Canadian ambassador” to one of the world’s most popular hashtags. Many of the tweets used suspiciously similar language, often a sign of a coordinated campaign by bots, or automated accounts.

    Saud al-Qahtani, a senior royal court adviser, tweeted a link announcing the decision to ban new trade on Monday along with the hashtag “Saudi first” - echoing a phrase popularized by Trump.

    Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Aziz El Yaakoubi in Riyadh and Katie Paul in Dubai; Additional reporting by Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai, Yara Bayoumy in Washington and Allison Martell in Toronto; Writing by Amran Abocar; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien


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